On February 1, 2024, London hosted a high-profile conference on establishing a Special International Tribunal to hold Russia’s leadership accountable for the crime of aggression against Ukraine with high-level representation from the governments of Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. The event gathered many of the world’s top experts in the field of international tribunals, including lawyers, leading think tanks and academics.
Following the day-long event, participants issued a COMMUNIQUE calling for the establishment of an Special International Tribunal to prosecute Russia for the crime of aggression.
United Kingdom Representation
Victoria Prentis KC MP, the Attorney General for England and Wales
Alicia Kearns MP, Conservative MP for Rutland and Melton, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee
Stephen Doughty MP, Shadow Minister for Europe and North America
Frank Hoffmeister, Director for General Affairs and the Chief Legal Officer at European External Action Services (EEAS)
Jörg Polakiewicz, Director of Legal Advice and Public International Law at the Council of Europe
Anton Korynevych, Ambasador-at-large of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Denys Maliuska, Minister of Justice of Ukraine
Andriy Kostin, Prosecutor General of Ukraine
Oksana Zolotaryova, Director of the international law department of the MFA of Ukraine
Key conclusions from the event:
Prosecution of the crime of aggression against Ukraine should be set up as an independent tribunal court. The International Criminal Court (ICC) does not have jurisdiction over the crime of aggression against Ukraine.
Today it is all down to the political will of the international community to prosecute Russian leadership. The cost of not prosecuting Russia’s leadership will be far greater that acting now.
Today there are 40 countries in the Core Group on the International Special Tribunal. A lot more countries need to take a position on the subject.
Key messages from the speakers:
“The UK public wants to see justice on Ukrainian terms. Not prosecuting aggressors now will cost us a lot more in the future.” - Alicia Kearns MP, Conservative MP for Rutland and Melton, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
“What we are doing is really something new in its nature, and a lot depends on whether there is a political will and if the politicians are brave enough to support a new legal structure. The crime of aggression is a leadership crime, encompassing both the political and military Russian elite. The so called masterminds of the Kremlin regime.” - Andriy Kostin, Prosecutor General of Ukraine.
“The International Criminal Court (ICC) does not have jurisdiction over the crimes of aggression against Ukraine. A special tribunal does not minimise the role of the ICC, it accentuates and reinforces it.” - Philippe Sands, Professor of Laws and Director of the Centre on International Courts and Tribunals at University College London.
“Politics and political will lie at the center of international law. Without the political will, there would be no international criminal tribunals and without the political rules, they would not be able to function at all”, - Richard Goldstone, First Chief Prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda.